Number 40 Scrub Plane

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Forum topic by TopamaxSurvivor posted 12-31-2010 01:51 AM 2016 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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15574 posts in 2551 days

12-31-2010 01:51 AM

Topic tags/keywords: number 40 scrub plane

I have been studying planes and I think I just about have them figured out to the point I know which one to use for a given purpose. I just discovered the number 40 scrub plane. It seems to me I could just take an old number 5, open up the mouth, round off the iron and go to work. Am I missing something?

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

17 replies so far

View gizmodyne's profile


1765 posts in 2965 days

#1 posted 12-31-2010 02:01 AM

The blade on my scrub plane is much thicker than a standard blade. It almost forms a scoop. Wonder if a thinner blade would dull quicker.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

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15574 posts in 2551 days

#2 posted 12-31-2010 02:03 AM

You mean concave in the center of the blade?

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View racerglen's profile


2609 posts in 1655 days

#3 posted 12-31-2010 02:05 AM

You’ll gain the weight of the number 5, my 40 or 40 clone, don’t know which it is, is shorter and a whole lot lighter than the standard number 5 I just lifted from the rack.. One BIG difference I see is the throat size. The 40 has a very wide throat, so it can clear the chips that are a lot thicker than you’d get when finish planing. You might find cloging a problem..But if you do open the throat it should work even better ? Anyone else gotta thought here ?

Topo..I think John meant concave ? like a gouge chisel, but with the blade flat..where are my glasses, I get confused with cave and vex…Damn progressive lenses.. ;-)

-- Glen, Vernon B.C. Canada

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15574 posts in 2551 days

#4 posted 12-31-2010 02:31 AM

That is what I thought it probalby was, like a gouge. I am wondering if one of the junker planes I got when I first got some not knowing what I was really looking for would make a good scrub plane??

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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John Ormsby

1283 posts in 2612 days

#5 posted 12-31-2010 02:47 AM

I have used a few types of scrub planes. Some have a small curve to them and others are narrow and deep. I mainly use them for making details on wood such as a criss-cross pattern. Then either paint or stain and finish the surface.

I think one could use most any plane and open the mouth a bunch to clear the chips.

Grind the blade to the desired curve and have at it.

It is a good idea to try to fit as thick a blade as possible to reduce chatter and ensure a smooth clean cut.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

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15574 posts in 2551 days

#6 posted 12-31-2010 03:06 AM

What I want to do is clean up chaninsaw milled and rived boards before I plane them in the power planer 1/16 at a time :-))

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Loren's profile


7967 posts in 2523 days

#7 posted 12-31-2010 03:14 AM

I have a scrub plane. No-name brand and old. It’s narrower and
lighter than a #4 but about the same length. It doesn’t use
a chipbreaker and the blade is not especially thick but I think it
is tapered so it’s thicker at the cutting edge.

The narrower sole makes it easier to take deep cuts with the scrub
plane, but using one will still give you quite a workout. If you just
want to get the job done, I’d recommend using a Makita or other
electric planer with the corners of the blades dubbed off on a grinder.
Way noisier, but the work gets done much quicker.


View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 1912 days

#8 posted 12-31-2010 03:28 AM

I have two No 5’s, and one is set up more like a fore plane, but it still can hog off some pretty serious chips. I am not sure if it could actually be opened up wide enough to act like an honest to god scrub plane, but it would be easy to try. Just back the frog all the way back to where it is co-planer with the slope of the sole and put a nice aggressive camber on the blade. I bet it will be a little hard to push, but then again the scrub planes have pretty narrow effective working widths, so you can always grind a larger camber in if you are having trouble pushing. This will “narrow” the working width of the blade and allow you to take deeper cuts, which is what the scrub plane is all about, right?

The worst that could happen is you grind the blade back to a “normal” camber and use it as a jack plane again, so I doubt there is any harm trying.

Regarding sharpening scrub plane blades, they don’t need to be super-sharp. They DEFINITELY don’t need a razor edge like a smoothing/polishing plane! I finish the bevel of my fore plane with 1000 grit sandpaper on my WorkSharp and stop since going further doesn’t seem to make any difference with such an aggressive cut. Think about it: would you polish off the blade of your axe with an 8000 water stone? The scrub plane is similarly a roughing tool, and doesn’t need as fine of an edge as more refined planes do.

They are not, however, dished out like a spoon. You should be able to flatten the back of a scrub plane blade the same way you would any other bench plane blade. they are not necessarily like Japanese planes in that regard, but a hollow in the back wouldn’t hurt—it would only speed sharpening as long as the edge of the blade was still able to be “flattened” to chase big wire edges. Again, this doesn’t really need to be done at super-fine grits to be effective for a scrub or a fore plane blade (at least in my experience!)

The caveat is that I have never actually used a real, honest to god, scrub plane, so I am shooting a little from the hip here. I do, however, use that no 5 pretty aggressively, and I “call it” my fore plane since that is how I use it. For me, I don’t prep enough REALLY rough stuff to justify a dedicated scrub plane, and the fore plane is just fine for basic flattening before I run boards through my power planer. After that, my smoothers take off the tool marks, and my no 7 jointer preps edges flat after rips. Using hand tools for heavy lifting is not how I personally like using my shop time, but to each their own! It really is about enjoying the process, at least if you are not running a for-profit shop!

-- David from Indiana --

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15574 posts in 2551 days

#9 posted 12-31-2010 03:38 AM

Thanks for the advise and insight. I am a real novice at hand planes. Count my experience in minutes on the fingers of one hand ;-)

I could use a little working out, may as well do something productive. I have an electric planer I got off Craigs List to use when i get overwhelmed with the task at hand :-))

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View Ole's profile


67 posts in 1952 days

#10 posted 12-31-2010 03:52 AM

You could do it. An actual scrub plane is much narrower than a No5. This means that it is easier to push through the cut, even with a very aggressive camber on the iron. You would need to exert quite a bit of effort doing the same thing with a No5. I use both, each has its merits.

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1982 posts in 1872 days

#11 posted 12-31-2010 03:21 PM

My number 40 scrub plane is 1 1/4” wide x 9” long weighs in at 2 1/2 lbs. My number 5 is 2” wide x 14 ” long and weighs in at 4 1/2 lbs. I have converted another plane to scrub. It was a no name and about 1 1/2” wide x 9” long. ”Swirt ” has a blog on grinding the right camber for making your own scrub planes. The olny thing I would recomend is looking for a longer front knob on the number 5. When you are planing it is nice to have a good grip on both tote and front knob. My scrub cuts about a 3/4” width. (depending on how deep it is set)
It has NO chip breaker and the blade is thicker. ! I have watched a video where the guy used an all wood body plane as a scrub plane. It is amazing how quick these planes will remove material, so don’t be afraid of the “Workout” you might get ,it is short lived.HAVE FUN !

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View lwllms's profile


555 posts in 2156 days

#12 posted 01-01-2011 06:02 AM


Stanley’s instructions for the #40 say something like it’s for removing material from the edge of a board when you need it narrower but when what needs to be removed is less than what can be conveniently sawn off. The traditional plane for initial roughing of stock in Anglo/American woodworking is the fore or jack plane. Yes the iron is wider than a #40 but the camber of the iron is less. You can remove stock every bit as fast and easy with a jack or fore plane (really pretty much the same planes) but you have a lot more control because of a combination of the shallower and wider cut plus the control the length of the plane’s sole offers.

I’m not really sure how the scrub plane of European style woodworking was used but I suspect it’s the same as what Stanley intended for the #40.

The ultimate goal of stock preparation by hand is straight, true stock at a uniform predetermined thickness. The deep aggressive cut of a scrub plane will get you into trouble very quickly in terms of reaching a predetermined thickness. For example 4/4 stock was customarily finished to 7/8” when prepared by hand. If you plane one area of stock too thin then the remaining pieces of that part of the structure need to be thinner as well. You can make a lot of work for yourself with a scrub plane and end up with a finished product that has the same too-thin anemic look of machine made work. That extra 1/8” of thickness of material in hand prepared stock makes a huge difference in the proportions of pieces made to the scale of household furniture. Pay attention to this when looking at early furniture and you’ll quickly see what I’m talking about.

For me, comments like “make a scrub from a jack plane” have the same effect as fingernails on a black board. If one understands traditional trade practice and how the different planes work with those practices, it’s easy to see why I feel this way.

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15574 posts in 2551 days

#13 posted 01-01-2011 08:17 AM

Thanks for the insight. Maybe I am thinking of using an agressive plane when I should still be using an adze or other tool on rough spllit or chainsawed planks. I have been thinging about this quite a bit. I think taking a hand saw, cross cuting every inch or two to a given line around the plank, then chipping it off with a adze or broad hatchet is more like what I need to be doing ,then taking a jack plane to it.

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View stefang's profile


14090 posts in 2209 days

#14 posted 01-01-2011 05:07 PM

Hi Bob, I use a jackplane with a ‘convex’ shaped blade as a scrub plane all the time for quick flattening. I keep extra blades to switch to for final flattening. I use it perpendicular to the grain from both sides of the board. This keeps the workpiece pretty flat, but of course you get shallow gouges. I then change blades for final leveling and then a no. 4 for smoothing. It should be a lot easier than using an adze because you will have better control with the plane. It seems to me that an adze is better used to hollow things out with than to flatten a piece.

I read a very interesting article by Christian Becksvoort in the latest FWW mag. He recommends using a good quality low angle Jack plane with several different blades all sharpened at different angles for different planing needs from end grain to normal to difficult wavy grains. Lee Valley has one and they also sell the extra blades for it. Otherwise Lie-Neilson has one too which cost a little more. I plan to follow his example. Keeps things simple with less storage space.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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15574 posts in 2551 days

#15 posted 01-01-2011 10:55 PM

Thanks Mike. I think from all the comments I am geting the idea I definitely need to do more prep before I turn to the plane. Some of the maple that has a split side will have to have 3/4” taken off to flatten it. Obviously, that is not a job for an aggressive plane ;-))

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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